Carrie & Lowell
The old one's getting a bit frayed around the edges. High time we had a new One Direction.
OK, no, that's not the case at all. Still, the X Factor machine must keep rumbling along, popping out new models of tried and tested teen sensations. Union J couldn't cope with the combined might of James Arthur, Jahmene Douglas and Christopher Maloney on last year's show, but Sony have clearly seen enough to predict a big future for these four boys. Is it justified though?
They've got the looks, of course, but they also have the voices. While One Direction are more about personality than pure vocals, Union J – particularly in microphone-hogger Jaymi Hensley – are slaves to the big vibrato note. It's the kind of thing that makes an event of overegged rave pop like Beautiful Life or a soupy ballad like Amaze Me, big performances distracting you from ropey songs.
And Union J can do ropey songs. Major label clout hasn't led to any truly decent pop tunes – instead it's meant off-the-peg dance synths and mirthless four-to-the-floor beats. The wretched, pounding Beethoven ("I'll play you like an instrument/Let me be your Beethoven") and charmless sub-Saturdays Where Are You Now will have you yearning for 1D's mechanical pop-rock.
An exercise in box-ticking then, and it'll probably work. But their already huge audience deserves something a little more creative.